Western Animation: Aaahh!!! Real Monsters aka: Real Monsters
Aaahh!!! Real Monsters was a show that aired on Nickelodeon from 1994 to 1999. It serves as the 5th show in the Nicktoons series. It focused on three monsters who lived under a dump and were in a monster school, taking "scares" as lessons. The main cast included:
Oblina, who resembled a black candy cane with big red lips and eye stalks. Could pull her insides out at will; naturally, this made her the best at scaring, and she was considered the Gromble's best student. Came from a rich family, and had a strange accent. Often fought with Ickis over his bad habits, and had a tendency to lecture, which... never really helped her make her case.
The Gromble, the Sadist Teacher and Headmaster who constantly belittled and punished his students for poor scares. Was particularly hard on Ickis (who admittedly brought a lot of it onto himself), but also occasionally showed fondness for him and his other students.
The Snorch, The Unintelligible monster in charge of punishing students who broke the rules. His punishments tended to be oddly unthreatening, such as listening to classical music or performing opera — though, of course, the students were terrified of such things. Was actually very intelligent, though the communication barrier generally prevented him from demonstrating this.
Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Large enough they can hold surfing contests inside. Not to mention how they normally use toilets to get into different houses and such...
With the using pipes to infiltrate buildings, that's less because the pipes are large and more because monsters can squeeze... Ickis is shown moving effortlessly through a pipe maybe a centimeter wide in one episode, and pops out of a sink's faucet in another (Oblina accuses him of showing off when he does).
The Ace: Slickis, Ickis' talented and famous father. Oblina also qualifies, being the best scarer at the academy and the Gromble's prize pupil.
Agony of the Feet: Those high-heels on the Gromble's feet? They're a size or so too small for the Gromble, but he likes them so much that he insists on wearing them even though they pinch his toes something fierce. Ironically, he got his first pair of them when he goofed one of his first scares, making them a sign of his failure.
Amusement Park: Appears in a few episodes; Oblina visits one while wearing the human suit in "The Monster Who Came In from the Cold", and Ickis starts haunting a ride in another.
And I Must Scream: the three robber monsters were imprisoned in cement as gargoyles, when they escaped they wind up in another prison, this time in a high way getting run over by cars every second.
Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: There's an element of this to monster culture. Being ugly, smelly, gross, or otherwise negative is often appealing, whilst being pretty or nice is bad. They eat trash and breathe polluted air to the point that one episode claims they can't survive for too long in air that's too fresh.
Balloon Belly: This happens to Oblina a lot of times when she eats something sizeable.
Banging Pots and Pans: In "Attack of the Blobs", the three take shifts in taking care of an infant monster. Ickis is banging the trash can lids during his shift; this is apparently something that makes "bonsties" (baby monsters) fall asleep.
Becoming the Mask: Happened to Oblina once; while disguised as a human to gather information on them, she had a bad reaction to cotton candy and ended up believing she was really human.
Berserk Button: Whatever you do, do not mess with The Snorch's golden nosehair...
A Boy and His X: "Puppy Ciao" involved Ickis trying to keep a puppy, Fungus, and hiding it from the Gromble.
Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: Oblina ended up with these once, because her teeth were straight (due to her youthful indiscretion of brushing her teeth once). This actually caught the attention of the Romantic False Lead, who admired his reflection in the massive things.
Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Monsters have their own names for certain 'human' things; for instance, dogs are called 'barknbites'.
Camp Straight: The Gromble was expressively melodramatic and wore bright red high heels on all four of his feet, but had a crush on the female monster librarian in one episode.
Chekhov's Gunman: Bradley first appeared in "Monsters, Get Real!". At the end of the first season, he reappeared in "Simon Strikes Back" as a key figure, and wound up becoming Ickis' Secret Keeper and a recurring character.
Conspicuous Gloves: Krumm carries his eyeballs in his hands; his father has an eyeball in one hand and a black glove on the other.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Snorch punishes students through such horrors as square dancing. Partly this stems from the above-mentioned reversal of standards. Partly it stems from the fact the Snorch isn't exactly a virtuoso... let's face it, having somebody sing soprano opera at you whilst being The Unintelligible is going to be unpleasant.
Couch Gag: The different phrases shouted by the Gromble during the opening credits.
Also the Gromble's teacher The Shroink, who was the reason George Washington crossed the Delaware and Albert Einstein had white hair, when he at first seemed to be a senile old coot. He proves he's still relevant by taking down a vicious monster bully, including swallowing one of his fireballs and spitting it right back at him.
Curse: "Curse of the Krumm" reveals that Krumm's species (which are all called 'krumm') are cursed to eventually lose their stench. With his friends' help, he manages to break it.
No, this was his family specifically. It usually skips a generation which was why his father never told him.
Darker and Edgier: Compared to the other Klasky-Csupo Nicktoons during that time, especially since it dealt with monsters scaring people and involves more gross-out humor than the other Klasky-Csupo Nicktoons.
Dark Is Not Evil: While they take great delight in scaring humans half to death, none of the Monsters hurt anyone, and are quite nice if you get to know them on a first name basis.
The monsters of this series are of the 'only exist if people are scared of them' variety. They have to scare humans to stay alive.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Ickis comes down with a case of spontaneous combustibility, the other monsters shun and avoid him, afraid they'll catch it if they touch or come anywhere near him. note For those who don't get it, when this episode aired, the outbreak of transfusion-contracted HIV cases was causing public concern, which resulted in many cases of prejudice against HIV positive children.
For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: In "The Switching Hour", we learn monsters consider Halloween one of the most important celebrations of the year and it's the only time they freely mingle with humans.
Forbidden Fruit: Ickis's fascination with human culture partly stemmed from the Gromble forbidding everything to do with it.
G-Rated Drug: The episode "A Wing and a Scare" shows Krumm digesting an air sickness bag, which is followed by him getting hallucinations afterward. While he is high, he remarks "These air sick bags really work!"
G-Rated Sex: "Dancing". To elaborate, monster reproduction apparently takes the form of doing a goofy dance and then touching fingertips to form a blob, from which a new "bonstie" (baby monster) will hatch in a month.
In "Monsters, Get Real" when they're trying to get the Scare Manual back, a kid thinks Krumm is a wind up doll and sticks the key in Krumm's butt.
The episode where Ickis and Krumm became Krickis began with them scaring a bunch of people at a bistro. Men are seen literally having their pants scared off, but one of the victims is a woman whose panties fall down when the monsters scare her.
The aforementioned example of G-Rated Sex was also seen in the episode demonstrated by a bewildered Ickis shortly after the Gromble gave The Talk, which resulted in another monster calling him out on it and Oblina expressing disappointment that Ickis embarrassed her.
In the episode "The Lips Have It", Krumm accidentally grabs Oblina's rear while they are getting out of a manhole, which causes her to glare at Krumm.
Gods Need Prayer Badly: Or rather Monsters Need Scares Badly. In "Where Have All The Monsters Gone?" it's shown that, if humans stop being afraid of monsters, then monsters will start disappearing, one body part at a time.
Heel-Face Turn: In "Simon Strikes Back", Ickis convinces Bradley to abandon his monster hunter apprenticeship and help them escape.
Hidden Depths: The Snorch honestly enjoyed classical pursuits like opera and was highly intelligent. However, since he was also The Unintelligible, there was a communication barrier he couldn't breach. It didn't help that Zimbo served as his 'voice', leeching off of the Snorch's terrifying reputation.
Ickis is an excellent dancer, as demonstrated in "The Switching Hour", "The Ickis Box" and "O' Lucky Monster". Too bad for him, dancing can be considered risque behavior in the monster world and the Gromble doesn't want to encourage it.
High-Class Glass: Chimera (the leader of the cement-imprisoned monsters in "Cement Heads") wears a monocle and so does Balook, the Gromble's overseer.
Historical In-Joke: Quite a few, especially as monsters are quite long-lived. Monsters were involved in The Shot Heard 'Round the World, the Boston Tea Party, and the writing of FDR's "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" speech, among others.
Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Monsters generally don't like music that isn't tone deaf. The Snorch is an exception.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: Though the attitude is less "humans are scary and evil" and more "humans are dumb, silly, cowardly, backwards and otherwise inferior to monsters".
I'm a Humanitarian: Averted; according to "The Switching Hour", monsters do not eat humans and find the idea disgusting. However, they apparently have little problem with eating other monsters, as Oblina notes to a human in disguise after the Gromble makes a threat about doing so.
A few episodes later, the Gromble actually does eat a student, though he does spit him out.
Another episode involves Ickis, Oblina and Krumm babysitting a "bonsty" — or newly born baby monster. Unfortunately for them, this one belongs to a species that, for the first 24 hours of its life, eats everything in sight, favoring other monsters.
In "The Rival", a stressed-out Oblina threatens to have Ickis for dinner when he tells her that she's imagining the rivalry between herself and new student Smeldra.
Insufferable Genius: When it came to scaring, Oblina usually knew what she was talking about, and gave her roommates good advice (like doing their scaring homework on time instead of putting it off). Unfortunately, she came off as extremely overbearing and a smarmy know-it-all. Didn't help that she loved rubbing it in Ickis' face when she was proven right.
It's Personal: The first time they met, Simon was just trying to prove monsters existed. After Ickis and the others thwarted and humiliated him, however, he developed a personal vendetta against Ickis and went out of his way to target him.
Jerkass: Zimbo. The Gromble was a Sadist Teacher, but often showed that he did care about his students; The Snorch handled their Cool And Unusual Punishments, but was actually pretty nice overall. Zimbo, meanwhile, was just a flat-out creep who enjoyed making the students' lives miserable, and would go out of his way to get them in trouble and torment them. And all the while, he relied on The Snorch's reputation to keep him safe.
Keet: Ickis again; he could get... very hyperactive at times.
Let's Get Dangerous: Ickis managed to be cocky and insecure at the same time, along with being a cowardly slacker who only took his scaring seriously when he was in trouble. Yet when serious threats came along and he found himself forced into the hero role, he wasn't half bad at Indy Ploys or going One-Winged Angel to help his friends.
Lighter and Softer: In-universe example: an amusement park ran a "Monsters Aren't Scary" Tunnel for a while. Ickis took advantage of this to score some easy scares and undermine the intended message. This works TOO well, as the ride operator figures out people prefer the scarier version and sets a trap, intending to make Ickis scare people for his fiscal gain.
Loud of War: The Snorch punishes students by making them listen to opera and bagpipe music.
The Masquerade: Humankind is unaware that monsters are real, and the monsters want to keep it that way, because they are both afraid of what this might result in and because if humans figure out what monsters are, they might stop being scared, which would wipe the monsters out. Several episodes revolved around the risk of exposure, such as getting 'flashed' by a photographer or caught by Simon.
Na´ve Everygirl: Gender aside, Ickis fits this. He's got all of the flaws, plus a tendency to say he's giving up... only to come back when it counts.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Oblina's speech mannerisms, though widely considered to be just an unusual accent, are easily recognizable as an exaggerated Bette Davis impression.
World of God from Oblina's voice actress, Christine Cavanaugh, was that it was intended to be "a British version of Agnes Moorhead".
Not So Different: It's repeatedly implied the Gromble had a lot of the same problems when he was a young monster that Ickis has now.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Simon was crazy, sure... Unfortunately, he was also frighteningly devoted to getting his revenge and proving to the world he was right all along. A few times it came down to Ickis having to stop him solo because everyone else had been captured or was otherwise unable to help out.
One-Winged Angel: Ickis's primary scaring routine. He grows a lot bigger, his teeth turn into fangs, his eyes turn red and his fingers turn into claws.
Most monsters seem to be capable of doing this to at least give themselves a Game Face — Oblina's almost as reliant upon it as Ickis, she just displays a lot more versatility in it (and it tends to take the form of pulling herself inside out).
Opening Shout-Out: During the opening titles when Ickis frightens a baby, a pull toy styled after Duckman (another cartoon by Klasky Csupo) and a Potty Chair styled after Fluffy and Uranus (also from Duckman) can be seen.
Parental Issues: Ickis had a whole slew of emotional issues thanks to his famous father; Oblina's mother was an overbearing control freak; The Gromble's mother still treated him like a child... Krumm got along okay with his father, though. Aside from learning that he'd flunked out of the Academy after losing his stench.
Parodic Table of the Elements: Ickis has to go on some quest while the Gromble keeps the class busy by going over a chart of human phobias that's a direct parody of the periodic table.
Power Trio: Ickis (Id), Krumm (Ego), and Oblina (Superego).
Pride: All three of the monsters suffer from this. Oblina because she's a know-it-all, Krumm because he smells so awful, and Ickis because it's the only way he can step out of his father's shadow.
Prison Episode: When Ickis gets put in jail because he was mistaken for a fugitive.
"Rashomon"-Style: In an episode titled, appropriately enough, "Rosh-O-Monster". The viewfinder the Gromble uses to view the students' assignments breaks down so the trio tells the class how their scare went. Ickis tells his story in a film noir style with him as the hero, while Oblina's account portrays her as a superheroine who has to rescue Krumm and Ickis from humans. The less-egotistical Krumm's retelling (which is animated ina childish scrawl) only indicates that Oblina and Ickis spent most of the assignment arguing. Of course in the end the viewfinder is repaired and we see what really happened. Turned out that they kept screwing up and the scare was a total accident. Of course, the Gromble wasn't pleased and punishes them by having them shine his massive collection of shoes.
Real After All: One episode had the Power Trio trapped in a severely haunted house, the rub being that while monsters exist, ghosts do not (this is repeatedly stated by Hermione Oblina). It turned out that the house was the bunker/battle ground for a soldier monster who caused all of the strange happenings - except one. All four monsters quickly leave, and the house resumes all of its disturbing behavior.
Sadist Teacher/Stern Teacher: The Gromble managed to be both. He genuinely enjoys tormenting his students but does also genuinely want to teach them.
Taken Up to Eleven when the Gromble actually physically inhales Krumm, leaves him in there for a few moments, and then spits him back out in full view of the entire class.
Shaming The Cowards: The Gromble berates the entire student body for spreading rumors about Ickis' spontaneous combustibility and their trepidation around him because of it. Basically they were acting like everything they hate: humans.
The Gromble: IS THAT WHAT YOU WANNA ACT LIKE!? A BUNCH OF HUMANS!?
Secret Keeper: Bradley, Ickis's human friend, who Ickis met when he accidentally left his Monster Manual behind after a botched scare attempt.
The first episode has Krumm and Oblina accidentally bring a human back when they snuck out on Halloween; the kid, having seen Ickis a while ago, had designed his costume to resemble Ickis, and so they mixed the two up. He never appeared again, but evidently became one as well.
Sewer Gator: The show occasionally showed alligators living in the sewers with the monsters. One episode had Ickis learning to ride the alligators as part of a quest.
Strong Family Resemblance: Ickis and Krumm looked a lot like their fathers, Slickis and Horvak. The Gromble also strongly resembled his mother. Oblina, on the other hand, took traits from both of her parents, as revealed when they finally showed up. She was also one of the only characters who had both parents appear.
Villain Protagonist: The point of the show, really; the main characters are monsters who love nothing more than to terrorize innocent people.
Weaksauce Weakness: Having the monsters gaze into a lava lamp is all that is needed to put them into a vulnerable trance.
Weird Currency: Human toenails. Fingernails, however, are considered worthless, and actual human currency, such as US paper dollars, is treated like a delicious snack food.
Your Mind Makes It Real: It turns out in "Where Have All The Monsters Gone" that monsters are actually an embodiment of this; human fear of the unknown created the first monsters during caveman times, and if the human fear level drops too low, monsters will begin fading out of existence.